HOUSTON - When we think about how 'connected' we've become with devices, apps, and social media, it's important to remember our 'vehicle' is part of that equation.
No matter what you drive, it's an extension of your personal identity. Getting rid of it should include some important steps to ensure it doesn't share a detailed history of your life.
If you've never thought about it, today's modern cars, trucks and SUVs are rolling computers that can share all kinds of information. Tack on connected phones, apps, and GPS, and there's a literal roadmap for your life that you shouldn't share with strangers.
"You should be the one making sure that you deliver a vehicle that is sterile of personal information and information about you," warns Houston tech-expert Juan Guevara Torres.
If you want to go through this process of deleting yourself from your vehicle, there are a couple of places to look.
Start with your phone; most cars will have some sort of Bluetooth pairing, that allows hands-free talking. Activate that function in the vehicle, and there will be a settings adjustment that will delete the phone from the vehicle memory.
While General Motors has its OnStar assistance program, many automakers have similar services that can connect you with the touch of a button. It's not a bad idea to activate that service to tell them you're done with the vehicle, so they can deactivate your account and erase your stored personal information.
A garage door opener is another common device that can be paired to a vehicle. Since you, likely, don't want uninvited visitors letting themselves into your home, be sure to delete that connection.
Satellite radio is another source of personal information. Customers will need to contact the service directly to deactivate the account or transfer it to another vehicle.
And vehicle navigation can be a treasure trove of information that shouldn't be shared, including home location and frequent destinations. Access the feature's settings and find the option to delete personal data. As each vehicle is different, the owner's manual can offer specific directions to take these actions.
While many dealerships have a protocol to reset trade-in vehicles, they are not required to do it. Taking these proactive steps can help avoid your personal information from getting into the wrong hands.